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Could a weekly injection fight Alzheimer's?

Could a weekly injection fight Alzheimer's?
7th November 2014

The future of Alzheimer's treatment could be a weekly injection that fights the buildup of amyloid-beta plaque in the brain.

Researchers in San Francisco have worked out a way to get drugs into the brain, which marks a breakthrough as this was not thought to be possible, the Telegraph reports. 

The brain has a network of blood vessels that prevents everything but important nutrients entering, which is known as the brain-blood barrier. While this obviously has its benefits, it makes tackling neurological diseases like dementia difficult.

However, experts have worked out how to attach antibodies to a protein called transferrin. This is present in the body and aids in carrying materials through this barrier. 

These antibodies are able to stop amyloid-beta plaques - commonly thought to be the hallmark of the degenerative disease - building up inside the brain. 

Initial trials showed how just one injection could stop these tangles building up for as much as a week. What's more, there were no side effects. 

Scientists believe that an intravenous transfusion could last for as much as a month, while there are plans to move onto human trials to see if this could be a new pathway for treating the disease. 

Lead author Joy Yu is quoted by the Telegraph as saying: "The blood-brain barrier remains a formidable obstacle for developing therapeutics to treat neurological disease, particularly for large molecules such as antibodies.

"If this technique proves successful in humans, patients could receive weekly subcutaneous or monthly intravenous injections to keep neurological diseases at bay."

Director of research at the Alzheimer's Society Dr Doug Brown welcomed the findings, highlighting how the barrier posed many problems for scientists who are looking for cures for neurological conditions.

"Showing that this works in primates is one step closer to using this technology for treatments in people," he said, adding that more research is needed to see how it could be used in humans. 

The full findings of this study can be found in the Science Translational Medicine journal. 

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